William Bassett I 1593-1667
Elizabeth Neil 1603-1667
Mary Tilden 1610- Unknown
William Bassett I was our immigrant Bassett ancestor, arriving in Plymouth, Massachusetts in November of 1621 aboard the ship "Fortune."
William Bassett I was probably born in the year 1593, but was not christened until October 24, 1600 in Stepney, England. Stepney is an inner-city area in the East End of London that grew out of a medieval village around St Dunstan's church and the 15th century ribbon development of Mile End Road.
In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Stepney like this:
Stepney.-- par. and ry. sta. (on Great Eastern Ry.), Middlesex, in E. of London and in parl. bor. of Tower Hamlets, 832 ac., pop. 132,393; comprises the townships of Mile End New Town, Mile End Old Town, and Ratcliff; prior to 1669 it also included Limehouse, Shadwell, St George in the East, Spitalfields, Bethual Green, Bow, and Poplar.
Stepney Church, London, England
The Pilgrim Ship, "Fortune "William came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, aboard the ship "Fortune." According to Charles E Banks, "The English Ancestry & Houses of the Pilgrim Fathers," William Bassett was unmarried on his arrival in New England. He has sometimes been said to have been a passenger on the ship Speedwell which turned back, but a close reading of the passenger list shows no Basset on board.
William married soon after arriving in New England. He married Elizabeth Neil Tilden about 1623. At the first division of Plymouth land, they were shown to be married, but with no children. William was about 23 and Elizabeth, 20.
Elizabeth was also an English immigrant. We do not have information on her family at this time.
William and Elizabeth were the parents of seven children born between 1624 and 1635; three sons and four daughters. The children were: our direct ancestor,
- *William Bassett II 1624-1670
- Elizabeth Bassett 1626-1670
- Nathaniel Bassett 1628-1709
- Joseph Bassett 1629-1712
- Sarah Bassett 1630-1711
- Ruth Bassett 1633-1676
- Jane Bassett 1635-
THE YEARS 1623-1635
In 1623, "William Bassite" was allotted 2 acres, one for himself as a passenger on the Fortune in 1621, and one for his wife Elizabeth. In the 1627 Plymouth division of cattle, the sixth company included William Basset, his wife Elizabeth Basset, and two children; William Basset Jr. and Elizabeth Basset Jr.
William and Elizabeth settled first at Plymouth. William was one of the “purchasers” in Plymouth. He was a gunsmith (armorer) and blacksmith (metal worker, iron monger). He was fairly wealthy and was a large landholder. He had a large library, from which it is inferred that he was an educated man.
In 1633 only four paid a larger tax than he did. He was assessed £1 7s. in the Plymouth tax lists of 25 March 1633 and 27 March 1634. His name appears on the earliest list of freemen, in the 1633 list of Plymouth, among those admitted before 1 JAN 1632-1633. On 1 July 1633, 14 March 1635/6 and 20 March 1636/7 William Bassett was ordered to "mow at the end of his own ground" . He was a resident of Plymouth in 1635.
We do not have an exact death date for Elizabeth, but unfortunately, she died somewhere between 1635 and 1650. Some clues point closer to 1635. The Plymouth coroner's jury, 2 March 1635 has a notation for the Bassett family. Elizabeth's last child, Jane Bassett was born in 1635 and is the one child for whom there is no death date given. It is quite possible both Elizabeth and Jane succumbed from complications of pregnancy/childbirth. Or, Jane died in 1635 and her mother lived several years after before succumbing before 1650. We cannot know for certain.
FREEMAN OF PLYMOUTH
William is again on the list of Plymouth freemen on 7 MAR 1636-1637. Plymouth petit jury, 7 March 1636/7, 2 January 1637/8, 6 March 1637/8, 4 June 1639, 3 September 1639.
On 23 June 1637 William Bassett of Duxbury released to Mr. Ralph Partridge "so much of the lot of his lands lying in Ducksborrow aforesaid as is now enclosed by the said Mr. Partridg", and again on 7 November 1637 a similar agreement was reached regarding land released to William Leverich and Ralph Partridge .
He was a volunteer in the company raised in 1637 to assist Massachusetts Bay Colony and Connecticut Colony in the Pequot War. Various secondary sources claim that William Bassett volunteered for service in the Pequot War.
MOVE TO DUXBURY, MASSACHUSETTS
- William and his children moved to Duxbury by 1637-1638. His name appears on the Duxbury portion of the freeman list of 1639. He was active in his community:
- Member of the committee of the town of Duxbury to lay out bounds, and to decide on the fitness of persons applying to become residents.
- Representative of the Colony for six years, committee to admit newcomers to Duxbury, 7 May 1638.
- Plymouth grand jury, 5 June 1638, 6 June 1654.
- Member of the committee to lay out land, 3 September 1638, 7 January 1638/9, 4 February 1638/9, 4 March 1638/9, 31 August 1640, 5 October 1640
- Committee to lay out highways.
On 6 April 1640 Plymouth Colony granted to "William Basset of Duxburrow" one hundred acres of upland with "meadow convenient."
- William was a Representative from 1640 to 1644.
- Duxbury deputy to Plymouth court, 2 June 1640, 6 June 1643, 29 August 1643, 5 March 1643/4, 7 June 1648.
- Committee on bounds between Duxbury and Marshfield, 2 March 1640/1
- Council of war for Duxbury, 27 September 1642. In Duxbury portion of 1643 list of men able to bear arms.
On 6 March 1649 William Bassett was fined 5s. "for not mending of guns in seasonable time." He joined with Gov. Bradford and others in the purchase of Dartmouth.
William married (2) Mary Tilden about 1651. Mary was christened on May 20, 1610 at Tenterden, Kent, England, the daughter of Nathaniel Tilden and Lydia Huckstep. Mary had first married Thomas Lapham in 1637 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
MOVE TO BRIDGEWATER, MASSACHUSETTS
William and Mary moved to Bridgewater, Massachusetts in 1652, where he was one of the original proprietors.
- William Bassett and John Howland jointly held one share as Dartmouth purchasers, 7 March 1652.
- He served as a Duxbury constable, 3 June 1652.
- On June 3, 1652 William Bassett of Duxbury gave to "his son-in-law Leiftenant Perigrine White" forty acres of upland with the meadow adjoining.
- On June 9, 1653 he was fined 10s. "for neglecting to publish and make known an order directed to him from the council of war, prohibiting provisions for being transported out of the colony."
- On 9 August 1655 and 10 June 1661 the colony treasurer received payment of fines by William Bassett.
- On 16 June 1656 "William Bassett Senior of Duxburrow now living at Bridgewater" made a deed of gift of his Marshfield lands to his "two sons there living viz: Perigrine White and Nathaniell Bassett"
- His name appears in the Bridgewater freeman list dated in 1658.
A field on the Town River, West Bridgewater MA
On 3 April 1667 William Bassett Senior made a nuncupative will, bequeathing the movables to his wife, and the house and land to her during her life, after which it was to go to his son William's son, and bequeathing his tools to his son Joseph, and "being demanded about his books which he formerly took care about, answered he could not now do it".
"The last will and Testament of William Bassett Sen as dictated by him on his death bed exhibited to the court, holding at Plymouth the 1 st day of June , Anno Dom. 1667, on the oath of William Brett and John Carey. The third of the second month Anno Dom. 1667, the last will and Testament of William Bassett, Sen. being very weak and sick, and having spoken to his wife, and said, Wife, I must leave thee, but I shall leave thee with the Lord. If God had lengthened out my life it might have been that thou mightest have been more comfortably provided for. But it being demanded of him by one who was acquainted with his mind about the disposition of his estate, whether his mind was as formerly That he would give his movable goods with his chattels to his wife, answered, yes, it was his mind and that she should have his house and grounds till she died. If she married not, and then he would give it to his son William, and his tools to his son Joseph and it being demanded about his books which he formerly took care about, answered he could not now do it. To satisfy as so on as we may. Present then with him we have set our hands as witnesses to the above writing so far as we know."
William Bassett I died at his home in Bridgewater, Plymouth county, Massachusetts on April 4, 1667. He was 67 years old.
The inventory of his estate was presented on 12 MAY 1667 by his wife Mary, who took the required oath. His estate totaled £123 2s. 6d., which included no land, but included his blacksmith's tools and more than twenty books). The first five lines of the inventory included blacksmith's tools, including a pair of bellows, an anvil, a vice, tongs and hammers and coal shovels, and "all the rest of the smith shop" items. The inventory of his books included more than twenty books listed by title, mostly theological, valued at £9 18s.
Probate was made on 5 June 1667, and letters of administration were granted to William Bassett Jr. on the estate of William Bassett Sr. deceased WIFE (1): Elizabeth NEIL. Their first two children were born between 1623 and 1627. Their last child was born in 1635. So she apparently died after 1635, but prior to 1650.
MORE INFORMATION ON WILLIAM BASSETT I
Robert C. Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633 (1995), 1:127-130.
Buell B. Bassette, One Bassett Family in America (1926), 1-10.
Eugene A. Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691 (1986), 242-243.
F. A. Virkus, ed., Magazine of American Genealogy, 25:207.
Frederick Freeman, The History of Cape Cod: The Annals of Barnstable Co. (1858), 2:333-335, fn. 2.
Nahum Mitchell, History of Early Settlement of Bridgewater in Plymouth Colony (1840), 111.
Amos Otis, Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families (1888), 1:45-48.
Annie A. Haxtun, Signers of the Mayflower Compact (1897), 3:17.
Plymouth County Wills & Inventories in Mayflower Descendant (1914), 16:162-163.
Royal R. Hinman, Catalogue of the Names of Early Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut (1852), 160-161.
Charles E. Banks, The English Ancestry & Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (1929), 106 and The Planters of the Commonwealth, 1620-1640 (1930), 50.